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Graphene is thinner and stronger than any material. As a conductor of electricity, it outshines even copper. With attributes like these, graphene should be the king of materials. But as journalist John Colapinto pointed out in a recent New Yorker article, despite more than ten years of research and the enthusiastic efforts of thousands of scientists, the only two products on the market that use graphene are tennis rackets and conductive inks. The material, it seems, hasn’t yet delivered on all its promise.

This could soon change with the discovery, reported today, that adding small amounts of graphene to toothpaste reduces the damaging effects of bacteria. Bacteria feed off sugars in the mouth, releasing acid that erodes tooth enamel. According to the new research, graphene provides a protective layer that both protects enamel from these acids and kills the bacteria that cause cavities.

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